A few weeks ago, I attended happy hour at Muddy Leek, the “hyper-seasonal” restaurant from catering couple Chef Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff of Bon Mélange Catering. Born from years of entertaining experience and a series of underground dinners, Muddy Leek is the couple’s first independent restaurant. Chef Whitney’s commitment to using the best of fresh, in-season ingredients promised a happy hour out of the norm of traditional bar bites, with bar manager Lance Kawani mixing up a myriad of cocktails to quench our thirst.
I’ve never been a fan of Merguez sausage, and I can’t say I’ve been won over yet. I think it might be the harissa? Either way, I only took a nibble of this to confirm my continual aversion to the meat. With that said, though, my companion was over the moon for this and wolfed down about four of them. Just don’t tell her I told you.
My jaw dropped when I was told that the protein was speck, a meat I hadn’t eaten since I was last in Ireland. I’ve never seen speck within the USA, but I love its herby, juniper laden flavors. The addition of Manchego (Spanish cheese) elevated this bite in a way I never thought possible for simple grilled cheese. This was truly a pairing made in culinary heaven.
vodka – amaro meletti – lime – ginger soda
The most familiar drink of the night; an Italian twist on the classic Moscow variety by the addition of Amaro Meletti, a liqueur with notes of saffron and anise. A safe and sweet drink to perk up the palate.
I was not particularly smitten with this bite, but my guest thought highly of it along with the beer mustard – which I did enjoy.
If Victor Frankenstein were a chef rather than a scientist (really, the only difference is their mediums), he would have concocted this beautiful monstrosity. I cannot even begin to tell you how perfectly decadent these morsels are. I feel like running naked through the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument would be more dignified than sharing the sorry/not sorry lustful feelings I have for this dish. I regret not personally ordering another round to hoard all to my greedy self.
I was a bit nervous when this drink was given to me, as I normally don’t go for bold, masculine drinks. However, the lemon balanced out the rye without treading into ‘sweet’ territory, effectively making this drink not only palatable but completely pleasant and approachable for future visits.
The starch on starch combo was a big hit with everyone save for me, as I’ve never understood the appeal. Potato on pizza dough aside, though, the leeks, bacon and cheese were the real stars of this show. The leeks especially prominently stood out, giving a nice, earthy onion-y flavor.
I’m not one for doughnuts, really, but these were just the right size for a touch of sweetness after all of our savory bites. My guest, a doughnut fiend, loved the simplicity of these little balls of fried dough coated plainly in sugar. A very happy end to our happy hour food.
Hands down, the best cocktail of the evening. The jalapeno added a whole new level of heady smokiness, a slow burn with a crisp cool down from the cucumber and lime. I could have had four of these.
It was nice to step out of my usual haunts and into a neighborhood I’m only beginning to become more acquainted with. As the event took place on a Thursday, it was the perfect evening to give those of us dealing with company/family the fortitude to brave through the holiday (Easter) weekend. Overall, the food was extremely enjoyable and left me with a pleasant, lingering feeling of wanting more. Precisely what happy hour is meant to accomplish. Happy hour at Muddy Leek runs from 4:00-6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.
8631 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, 90232